Seven years ago we bought a house that needed much TLC; many walked through but very few offers came in. For a house a mile from the beach in Los Angeles this was unheard of. Even our real estate agent didn’t understand what we saw in this house. But we saw potential, a lot of it.
We bought the house, a miracle in itself, given the four bids in front of us. We spent three years remodeling it to the studs. Moving walls, changing room layout, and improving the flow, finishes and feel of the whole house. When we were done, it was beautiful -- the all-white kitchen, solid wood floors, marble tile and countertops, spacious bathtubs and just-right chandeliers. We planned on being there forever-- what was there not to love? -- but seven years later we’d be selling this home we’d poured our dreams into to find a new one; we had changed and so did the life we craved to live.
Before we began our search, I made a manifestation list of all the things we wanted in our new house. But there was one item on that list that I didn’t really understand. I felt it, but didn’t know why it mattered until now.
It was this ask: “I am in awe of the detail and design of the home, something I couldn’t/wouldn’t have done on my own. I am so grateful to be living in this home after someone spent the time to make it look amazing.”
You could argue this is PTSD from doing a full-house remodel, but it wasn’t that. It was a desire built from the contrast of being in our Los Angeles home -- a home we designed that didn’t feel good. That represented something inauthentic in me that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. Until now.
Sometimes wisdom pours in in a moment: To be an individual means to stand in your own truth, away from what’s favored and instead in what’s honest, for you, in that present moment.
The home I designed and remodeled in Los Angeles was a reminder of how trapped I was. Each design decision checked against a trend or IG account and whether it would be admired by others. It was about the idea of an all-white kitchen vs. the feel of being in one. (As someone who now has a very earthy kitchen I can say, to me, it feels much more calming and forgiving.) I tricked myself into thinking that is what I wanted instead of realizing the truth that I was acting on what others wanted. To be honest, at the time I didn't know the difference.
So much of our energy, especially amid the storm and cycle of social media, is directed toward becoming an individual in a false sense of the word: macramé, wide-brimmed hats, tie-dye, Converse to lift weights at the gym… and a sea of houseplants in every cozy at-home picture. This insight struck me yesterday as I was scrolling through Instagram… seeing a video from a party where each person had on some perfectly curated on-trend item. This trigger was strong, and opened me up to my own truths.
For so much of my life I was looking outside myself as to who I needed to be vs. inside myself for who I am. And this continuous cycle of unconsciously seeking external validation finally came into view. And what I saw was a rejection of self. Oh how hurtful we can be to ourselves without any idea that we're doing it.
I've come to feel that it's cruel to be anything other than who we were designed to be. It harms others, keeps us from our destiny, and shapes a world with less diversity and acceptance - not to mention a complete limitation of possible genius.
It's as if we think that being someone else is the key to our success. When has that ever been the case? When does someone pretending to be someone they are not ever deliver a happy ending?
Ultimately the truth of who we are is determined to manifest and will continually remind us, until our last breath, what it’s fighting for… to be seen, fully. Here are a few questions to ask yourself to begin to uncover where you have misalignment.
Who are you without being told what you should aspire to be?
Where do you strive for acceptance?
Where do you wish you were different?
What is the truth you fear will exile you from who loves you today?
What image are you trying to portray?
What do you want people to think about you?
Where are you pretending?
To be an individual, truly, can come with judgment and rejection from others. In the last few years I have often wished I was different. Wished I was that person who could sit at a job and just be happy getting paid, without desire for more, and without needing to ask the big questions and go find the answers. But I've also come to realize that’s not my design. It wasn’t my mother’s design. It wasn’t my grandmother’s design. I am the result of decisions made centuries ago -- where a fire in the belly was admired and a will to create anew needed in this world. And it's still needed. And so I am here to be just that.
Yet even with this awareness, I fight the urge to make decisions based on what will be approved of vs. what is true for me. I just recently challenged myself to live and work with radical honesty and loving intentions. So often pain is grounded in misunderstanding and our inability to share what we really feel.
And I know, as a coach, that the only way I can help others be their honest selves is to be mine. To have my first thought in a decision be how it feels within me, not how it will be perceived. It’s in the projection of how to create a future of success and acceptance that we go wrong… that I go wrong.
I remember another honest moment of clarity, spoken by a much older family member with a very different view of life than mine. I mentioned I had just gotten off the phone with a client who had experienced great freedom and success after making some changes in their life, and this family member said, “Well, you encourage people to take risks in their life.” I was taken aback by that statement; I would never describe coaching people as encouraging them to take risks. My response was, “No, I encourage people to be honest and true to who they are.” Immediately they replied, “Yeah, we lie to ourselves all the time.”
Without a filter of what was supposed to be said or how they were supposed to feel about my line of work, or me, the truth came out easily… as a reflection of their own life experience and the truth they felt in that moment.
It may be that you feel, like I did four years ago, unclear about who you really are. Unclear about what you want vs. what it’s popular to want. I know what this is like -- to be completely unaware of who you are outside of who you’ve been told to be.
The ultimate risk in life is to never fully bloom. Imagine if in nature 80% of the flowers and trees and plants never bloomed, never quite made it to their fullest expression. Think of all that would be lost in the world, all the fruit, bees, butterflies, vistas, flavors… so much would be missing.
It seems to me human life is 80% dormant… still yet to fully bloom. And that is why I do this work. Why I am committed to the mission of Collective Gain to empower people to live their truth and step into their fullest potential and contribution.
Life gets better for everyone when we each claim our individuality and live life with the sovereignty we were designed to thrive on. Your greatest contribution to this world is you, the truth of who you are. And if you need help remembering or discovering, we’re here. Become part of our community. It means you’re doing your part to add honesty and love to the world -- and if anything heals suffering and unlocks opportunity, it’s you in your fullest expression.
Here’s to you, the truth of you. May we all be so lucky to experience your full presence.
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